Cost revolution at court

This month a quiet revolution was ushered into the English courts.

The courts have (for some types of cases) now replaced an outdated Victorian procedure and embraced modern technology with the mandatory use of “electronic bills of costs”.

In an immediate and very narrow sense this development will have very little impact on clients or the public in general, but it does mark a change in attitude and could foster, it is hoped, greater transparency when it comes to clients knowing how much taking a matter to court could end up costing them.

Parties to a court action, usually through their solicitor, are required to submit to the court what is called a “Bill of Costs”. The court then uses this as the basis to decide how much one party (usually the losing party) should pay towards the other sides costs. Before this month this document was based on a “Victorian Account Book”.

Electronic Bills will, it is intended, provide more transparency as to the amount of costs being claimed not least as the format will be easier for all to read and understand. The old Bill of Costs were sometimes so complicated that only the most hardened of litigation lawyers could understand them – clients stood little chance of working out how much was being claimed. The new format should also make it much easier to amend the figures and therefore make the bills quicker and cheaper to prepare.

As with any new system it will take time for all to get used to the new way of doing things and for the moment at least it is limited to only certain types of claims commenced under certain procedures. Although a long time coming it is progress and anything which increases clients understanding the costs of litigation, must be welcomed.

To find out more about costs or what to do if you are in a dispute please do not hesitate to contact Simon Beasley in our Dispute Resolution team on 0207 288 4769 or email

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Simon Beasley

020 7288 4769
07387 099 596
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